On 30 May 2018, the Two Oceans Aquarium, with help from Wavescape, will be celebrating the launch of the NSRI’s amazing pink rescue buoy drive while listening to tales of surf rescue from some of the hardiest sea dogs in Cape Town.
According to Surf Magazine, big wave surfing separates the brave from the insane – a sport that seems to be for those who thrive on the idea of potential imminent death. Whether or not they are born without fear, what they definitely share is an absolute passion for the ocean.
Our host, Nik Rabinowitz, is no stranger to surfing and has had to dodge many dangerous surf situations (mostly at Muizenberg Corner, but that’s beside the point). He will be chatting to a group of guys who start getting properly excited about surfing when the waves reach at least 15 feet high. They surf “rhino chaser” guns up to 10.5 foot long. They have travelled the world chasing monster waves. They rescue each other. They have seriously good breathholding abilities. They love winter, and they are going to share their insane stories with us.
Nik will be joined by Steve Pike (aka Spike), founder of Wavescape. Spike is a medium wave surfer who likes to put wave dynamics theory into practice by paddling out when the waves arrive. Like most “biggish wave” Cape surfers, he's not immune to the odd ding to the head (Spike and Nik may well compare scars), crocked knee or extended underwater analyses of the kelp during big wipeouts. As forecaster for the Red Bull Big Wave Africa for 10 years, he has a long-standing relationship with big wave surfing, particularly from the perspective of weather charts, buoys and digital data.
Meet the crew
Mickey Duffus: Boland boytjie turned Kommetjie local. Married to a professor in Oceanography (very handy when analysing waves), Mickey has three cool kids named Finn, Jago and Kalani. He has been surfing close on 40 years! That in itself makes him a legend. He earned his green and gold in 1999 as a member of the SA Big Wave team, and at the same time won the World Big Wave Team Championships. That is precisely when the world realised that Saffas could charge (dreadlocks and all). Mickey has been very involved in surf rescue since training in K38 using rescue watercraft. As a true veteran of surfing, he has much to tell and teach.
Kommetjie local Mike Schlebach: Eco-warrior, chairman of the Cape Big Wave Trust. Let’s just call him SA’s Big Wave President. He is a Grand Kahuna (which in surfing terms makes him older than 45) and you can see that when he takes down Dungeons with his experienced, calm and controlled style. He has a big heart, and deep social conscience, with a deep passion for the ocean that manifests in his love for big waves and his business (Sealand Gear – we love their stuff). Mike won the best-surfed paddle wave at the 2011 Rebel Sessions Big Wave contest in 2011. (We just heard that Mike went and stuffed up his knee - so he'll have even more scary injuries to show and tell you about next week!)
James Taylor: Melkbos local. His medical file reads like a horror movie, including a broken back and burst eardrum. Definitely born without fear. He won the worst wipeout award at the 2011 Rebel Sessions but took the win for the biggest wave paddled into at the 2016 Rebel Sessions. His bravery/insanity has paid off many times over with some insanely amazing waves. There is much to say about learning to surf on a single-fin polystyrene board at the age of 12 – just ask James!
Greg Bertish: Hout Bay local. Adjusts his warfarin dose before charging big waves. Insane for sure. Philanthropist. Open-heart surgery survivor (hence the warfarin). Eldest of the Bertish brothers. That makes him a Grand Kahuna too. Greg is a serious big wave surfer, and just as serious about water safety. He is an SA Lifesaving Champ and represented SA in Stand Up Paddleboarding. He was knocked out cold by his own board at Dungeons and thanks to brother Chris and water safety crew Ross and Pierre, made it out alive. Greg is just so full of stoke and ocean passion, and we can definitely see that in the not so distant future there will be two more Bertish brothers charging some serious waves with their dad and uncle!
Dave Smith: Camps Bay local. Serious charger. When not dodging death-defying surf, he juggles a young family with a travel guide business for incoming tourists to Cape Town. He is ocean crazy, and a spearo, though not vegetarian. If you google "big wave surfing", Dave’s name pops up on just about every website. He seems to be on every big wave, especially those in the Cape. Kahuna yes. He is also a Clifton life-saving guru, with many years' service on the beach and in the kelp of the Cape Peninsula. He is a master on a jetski. What more can you ask for? Dave is the Man.
Ross Lindsay: Deep South local. Ross is better known as Red Cross Ross, otherwise referred to as a Big Wave Safety Expert. Another Kahuna who knows how to charge monster waves, but also knows how to pull his surf mates to safety. He is a thinker, and sensitive to the nuances of life. Furthermore, he has an astute understanding of the sports science that underwrites all the craziness in a heaving ocean. Ross’s surf CV is extensive. He has surfed every big wave, represented two provinces as well as South Africa in surfing, completed every rescue course, and has been tow-surfing for almost two decades. When not surfing or rescuing others he runs two big businesses. We assume he does not sleep.
Join us for an evening of fun and surf stories on the 30th of May at the Two Oceans Aquarium at 18:30. Tickets are R150 on Quicket for Aquarium entry, light supper and surf talk.
- Date: 30 May 2018
- Venue: Two Oceans Aquarium, Dock Road, V&A Waterfront
- Time: 18:30
- Tickets: R150 per person. Click here to buy yours today
- Light snacks will be served and a cash bar will be available
Proceeds will go towards the NSRI rescue buoy campaign, which features those hard-to-miss pink buoys launched around the coast in early November 2017.